Should Manny be a Hall of Famer?

I recently posed a simple question to The Hardball Times’ staff: Should Manny Ramirez be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Not will he be, but should he be? The two questions are quite different.

This inquiry led to some, shall we say, lively discussion on our private mailing list. Opinions spanned the gamut, though one side was in the clear majority.

Below, Vince Caramela provides an insightful review of the lead-up to the Ramirez question, which is then followed by opinions on Manny’s Hall of Fame candidacy from a number of THT’s contributors.

Vince Caramela

Sometimes when events are too recent it becomes hard to come to an honest conclusion.

Baseball is a very patriarchal sport, forever measured by the ghosts of the past. Like a family, it’s a body of individuals kept in line by the old man, but if you wait your turn and say the right things, then maybe you’ll get the same respect and treatment.

However, we live in a time dependent upon technology and innovation, and when those innovations are chemical, we as a society can be both accepting and suspicious at the same time.

When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took America by storm in that one magical summer of ‘98, steroid use was always seen as a possibility. As sports fans, we all remember the alarming Lyle Alzado cover on Sports Illustrated, and it was no secret that players were getting bigger and looking more athletic. Take those elements and combine them with smaller parks, improved engineering of baseballs and the proliferation of maple bats, and you have a perfect storm.

But as in the previous Black Sox Scandal of 1919, as well as the prior ravages of the Great Depression and looming World War that helped create the so-called summer of ’41, baseball was trying to find a way out of its own “dead ball period.” The sport needed a laser show and, luckily, McGwire and Sosa possessed the right amount of humility and positive showmanship to make it a community event.

Barry Bonds would have none of that.

In his defense, Barry Bonds is a timeless player. With his speed, defense and natural hitting ability, Bonds easily could have thrived in any era. If he had been born in the 1910s, he probably would be considered among those legendary players trapped in the Negro Leagues, to exist only as a statue somewhere in Kansas City with a few memorable stories told to us by Buck O’Neil. Born a few decades later, it would be easy to see Bonds competing among the other iconic outfielders glorified in the ’50s and ’60s. You get the picture.

Unfortunately, Bonds was an individual, and his own laser show in 2001 just seemed excessive. A single man celebrating a single feat everyone was already exhausted and hung over from. Yet Bonds kept on hitting and pulling in MVP votes with no humility and no other players to share it with, and from that the inquiry over steroids grew louder.

This inquiry eventually grew into a congressional hearing and then the Mitchell Report. Under looming fears of another “dead ball era,” players were trotted out. Some lied, some were quiet, and a few cried. It was a shameful spectacle further highlighted by the absence of one player.

On Wednesday, Barry Bonds finally had his day in court and was found guilty of obstruction of justice. Legally, Bonds doesn’t seem to be in any more trouble since the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on the other counts, but this case is far from over.

I think what will eventually save Bonds’ legacy is the same thing that brought it down: the advancement of sports medicine. Eventually we will get to the point where cortisone shots are longer lasting, and less invasive procedures are done to completely heal torn muscles and rotator cuffs. When that happens, then maybe something like injecting an anabolic steroid into your backside to further muscle growth will be seen not only as unnecessary but barbaric. (Don’t you know there are pills for that!?)

Maybe it would have been better if Bonds had been born in an earlier time and became one of those ghosts we speak of instead of someone who dared to measure up.

In fact, he reminds me of another player… one who was both celebrated and derided for his individual antics, a player with a lot of talent but more famous for his dreadlocks, aloofness and the curious decision to put the number 99 on his back for a few seasons. His name is Manny Ramirez, and he was—for a good part of the last 15 years—one of the most feared right-handed hitters in baseball But that’s for the next few generations to decide.

Asher Chancey

Should steroid use automatically disqualify a player for the Hall of Fame? Surely not. Of the hitters whom we know used steroids, only one or two performed at the level of Manny Ramirez.

Performance-enhancing drugs may explain away the difference between role player and starter, between starter and star, between star and immortal.

But this is not Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro or Gary Sheffield; this is Manny Ramirez, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, and while the substances he put into his body may have inflated his numbers, they cannot possibly explain away his performance altogether.

Brad Johnson

My answer is yes.

The career numbers speak for themselves regardless of the “type” of statistic you prefer to reference. Some highlights include the ninth highest career SLG percentage and OPS, 14th most career homers, 18th most RBI, 32nd highest OBP, 33rd highest offensive rWAR, 86th highest career average, etc. One can delve past the surface numbers to find even more remarkable statistics to solidify his case.

Then there is the elephant in the room. Honestly, I cannot possibly care less if a baseball player attempts to use PEDs. Did Manny use them throughout his career? His inclination to use them the last few seasons leads me to guess that yes, he probably was a juicer. Does that cause me to evaluate his statistics differently? Only a little bit. Baseball has a punishment system in place to deal with PED users, a system with which Manny fell afoul. It is baseball’s fault that the system wasn’t in place during the steroids era and I do not see it as my duty to judge players for participating in a practice that the sport subtly encouraged.

I’m sad this particular story ended this way.

Chris Jaffe

There are two kinds of rules violations: (1) ways that attack of the integrity of the game, and (2) ways that attack the integrity of the individual.

Betting on baseball falls into the former category. In the case of someone like Hal Chase or the Black Sox, people are given money to NOT do their best. Thus the competition on the field is a sham, plain and simple. Historically, baseball has clamped down on this transgression far more harshly than any other misdeed. Guys found guilty of thus are banned from baseball for life and denied even the possibility of entry into Cooperstown.

In fact, a person betting on baseball for his team instead of against is held to the same punishment. Why? Any such betting means the gamblers might get his hooks into a player. End up in debt to a bookie or the mob, and a player may have to throw a game to erase the debt. Baseball has a zero tolerance policy on gambling on games for this reason, and it’s clearly stated in every major league clubhouse for that reason. There’s nothing as likely to jeopardize the integrity of the sport itself as gambling.

This is the problem I have with possibly denying Manny Ramirez, or really any possible steroid user, from the Hall. Whatever you might think of steroids, they’re taken in an attempt to play better. It’s about getting the job done. In that regard, it’s more akin to coking a bat or throwing a spitball or taking greenies. It’s an extension of commonplace cheating in baseball history.

The Hall has numerous members who did this sort of cheating, most notably Gaylord Perry, who titled his autobiography “Me and the Spitter.” The punishment for this sort of cheating? It’s simple really: You get punished in-season. An ejection and maybe a suspension. Then everyone moves on with their lives. You did the crime, and you do the time.

Ramirez should go in. His misdeeds never attacked the integrity of baseball. He wasn’t trying to lose games by taking steroids.

Dave Studeman

Manny Ramirez was a phenomenal batter, natch. He was a line drive power hitter of the first degree. He had an OPS over 1.00 in eight of ten seasons (1999 through 2008). He hit 555 home runs. He also won the Silver Slugger award and finished in the top ten in MVP voting in eight of those ten years. He wasn’t Stan Musial or Ted Williams at bat—he was a notch below—but his batting performance clearly puts him in the Hall.

Having said that, Manny does come with some baggage. He was a lousy fielder and baserunner even in his prime. Looking at his Wins Above Replacement, which takes those factors into account, he still ranks 67th among position players, tied with Hall of Famer Duke Snider (and just behind Bobby Grich, who should be in the Hall).

If you head on over to Ramirez’s page at Baseball Reference, you will spot Manny’s ranking in BRef’s Elo Rater (a fantastic tool allowing fans to rank players by presenting two choices at a time). Right now, Manny is 70th among all position players, right behind Dave Winfield and ahead of Roberto Alomar, two first-class Hall of Famers. So even if you take his negatives into account, Manny still feels like an easy choice.

Except he carries even more baggage. Yes, we can cite the PEDs and the tarnished manner in which he limped into the sunset (too many metaphors in one clause!), but those were just part of a bigger picture. From all accounts, Ramirez was not a good teammate. He loafed, he did bizarre things in the clubhouse, he didn’t support his teammates. Yes, he looked like a big harmless teddy bear, but looks can be deceiving. I wonder if Manny was kind of like Dick Allen without the angry racial overtones.

To me, those factors should be part of the equation. Voters are asked to include character in their determination, and it’s important that baseball maintain a sense of character at its core and in its stars. But they’re not enough in this case. Even with the excess baggage, I would send Manny to Cooperstown.

David Wade

Manny Ramirez put up numbers that make him a Hall of Famer and that can’t be disputed. He compiled some of those numbers, at least at the end of his career, while violating a significant major league rule.

Now, you can argue that the rule didn’t really carry any type of penalty until recently. You can argue that he compiled his amazing numbers against contemporaries who also broke the same rules. You can argue that there are many players currently in the Hall of Fame who violated other, equally significant, rules. You may say some made it in throwing illegal spitballs. You may say a great many took illegal amphetamines. You may say some great players were awful people.

If any of that is true—and especially if that last sentence is true—then it sounds like Manny fits right in.

Greg Simons

The Hall of Fame provides the following guideline for electing players: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” Let’s look at each of those criteria, keeping in mind that not all the categories should be weighted equally.

Ramirez obviously qualifies in the “player’s record, playing ability” section, at least on offense. Everyone knows the tremendous hitting numbers he posted, though his defense rates somewhere between mediocre and atrocious. Still, his on-field performance is clearly Hall of Fame worthy.

However, in the “integrity, sportsmanship, character” categories, Ramirez has issues. Speculation that he quit on the Red Sox at the end of the 2008 season, begged out of games with suspect injuries at various points in his career and failed the 2003 PED survey testing all cast a shadow on his candidacy, though these factors alone do not preclude him from induction in my eyes.

Failing a PED test in early 2009—several seasons after MLB implemented a formal testing program—demonstrated a willful disregard for the rules of the game. At that point I was teetering on the fence regarding his candidacy. Manny’s next big mistake was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Having been busted before, Ramirez knew well the consequences of another positive PED test, but apparently didn’t care, as he is reported to have failed another test in spring training. Rather than serve his 100-game suspension, Ramirez chose to retire, walking away from the game and a Tampa Bay team that was counting on his patience and power to help recoup some of the offense the Rays lost during the offseason.

It is this totally flagrant disregard for the rules, his teammates, the game of baseball and his legacy within it that puts Ramirez outside the Hall for me. He doesn’t care about any of those things? Fine, I don’t care to recognize his various “contributions” with induction into the Hall of Fame.

Jeff Gross

YES: Steroids are not even half the battle. Manny had some of the best plate discipline of all time. Who knows when he started using PEDs and how it affected his stats. What we do know is he is hands down one of the top 10, borderline top five, right-handed hitters of all time who would have had a career OPS over 1.000 if he had retired two years ago. He’s not as talented as Barry Bonds, but his career numbers are fearsome by any standard, even if discounted by 20 percent for PED use.

John Barten

I vote yes. He was one of the best hitters of his generation. He was a flaky guy and a bad glove but extended excellence should be rewarded accordingly. At his peak, he was a nearly flawless hitter, with consistently excellent batting averages, walk rates, and power. It’s a shame his career ended the way that it did, but it doesn’t make his late 1990s/early 2000s run any less breathtaking.

Lisa Gray

As best I can tell, at this point, most of the Baseball Writers Association morally equate steroid or HGH use, not amphetamine use, with gambling on baseball or worse. I see no evidence that anabolic steroid use turns any even average baseball player into a Hall of Fame-caliber player. As Barry Bonds once said, “it’s talent, and you can’t teach talent” and you certainly can’t inject it, swallow it or smear it on with cream.

Steroid use may enable a player to heal faster and to have better workouts and keep in shape for longer than he could have without their use, so I agree that it is possible that this could elevate counting stats. I don’t consider anabolic steroid use immoral or cheating prior to its banning in the ’04 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Although Manny certainly broke the rules, he paid the penalty as stated in the CBA, and I don’t believe that breaking that particular rule should include banning from the Hall of Fame as it certainly is not equivalent to gambling on games; trying to stay IN the game is simply NOT the same as trying to throw a game.

Even as a two-dimensional player, he was still one of the 10 best right-handed hitters in the history of baseball and should be in the Hall of Fame.

Mat Kovach

I think Manny’s numbers get him in the Hall … and if Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame, nobody who uses PEDs should be kept out.

Actually I think there is a bigger question: Does Manny care if he goes to the Hall of Fame? Then the answer of if he belongs is a completely different question. Frankly, I don’t think he really cares about being in the Hall of Fame. This makes his drug usage understandable. If you don’t care about your legacy, the ramifications of using doesn’t matter much.

But that doesn’t affect if he belongs in the Hall. What keeps him out of the Hall is his actions to force a trade in Boston.

Mike Clark

He was clearly one of the best in the steroids era, and to presume he was juicing prior to being in LA is to assume facts not in evidence. I also think any voting writer who says in print that he shouldn’t go into the Hall needs to be disqualified from voting when Manny is on the ballot. If you can’t vote and maintain some element of objectivity, then you have no need to be voting. It isn’t for elected office, its for a career-crowning achievement.

Paul Francis Sullivan

I personally would vote for him. But that is because I am a Red Sox fan and I also have the twisted logic that if everyone was juicing, then he was better than most. However, he will never be elected because of the two strikes against him.

Rory Paap

It seems almost assured that Manny won’t get in via the writers’ voting, if at all, but he’s certainly deserving.

I don’t cafe if he juiced in an era where it seems a majority was doing the exact same, not even necessarily to get an edge, but to keep an even playing field. That seems odd to say and yet it’s absolutely true. I don’t care if he’s apathetic about his making it or not making it, either.

The Hall has always been about enshrining the game’s best players. The integrity mentioned in its voting practices seems completely out of place and thrown in.

Manny is one of baseball’s best right-handed hitters of all time. He deserves to get in despite his myriad shenanigans.

Steve Treder

On the basis of on-field achievement, Manny is a slam-dunk “yes” for the Hall of Fame. And his being outed as a PED user per se shouldn’t disqualify him, as it’s a fool’s errand to try to distinguish who has ever used what and how much that “enhanced” their performance. But Manny’s not once but twice failing a drug test during the testing/penalty era gives me pause: My bottom line is “yes,” but not as emphatically as it would be otherwise.

TUCK!

Manny should go into the Hall of Fame right after Mark McGwire.

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Comments

  1. David said...

    Actually, I don’t think comparing steroids to spitballs is all that ludicrous.  Taking prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal, yes.  From a legal or perhaps even moral standpoint, one can argue that steroids are worse.  But I do not understand how someone committing a crime can be relevant in discussions of baseball.  I don’t think a player should be barred from the Hall of Fame just because of a speeding ticket, or because of a drunk driving ticket, or because of a murder.  Those things are not baseball-related.  Therefore, “but he’s a criminal!” is not a valid reason for keeping someone out of the Hall.  The argument to be made is either that, a) he cheated or b) he violated the rules of Major League Baseball.  There’s really no other argument to make, legal or otherwise.

  2. Greg Simons said...

    @Mat: “Cheating is cheating. A spitball is cheating. Using drugs on the banned list is cheating.”

    I disagree.  Not all cheating is the same in the eyes of baseball, and the punishments demostrate this.

    Using a spitball, sandpaper on your glove, corking a bat – those types of things – will get you something like a 3-10 game suspension.  Subsequent suspensions for similar offenses might be slightly longer.

    Using drugs on the banned list will get you 50 games.  Do it again and it’s 100 games.  A third violation gets you a lifetime ban.

  3. Jim C said...

    Of all of the players that we know took steroids, or are strongly suspected, Manny and Barry are in a separate class. They had the skill, talent, and numbers to be likely HOF’ers without any “help.” Bonds especially. Is he really that petty, small-minded, and jealous that he loaded up on ‘roids because he felt that the Sosa-McGwire home run chase took too much attention away from his accomplishments? Apparently that was the case. With Manny perhaps he felt the same, or felt that with others juicing, he needed to keep pace. I think Bonds earned his way in to the Hall before he turned into the Michelin Man, though I am less sure about Manny.

  4. InnocentBystander said...

    10 points to everyone who said Yes. 153 bonus points to Jaffe for “There’s nothing as likely to jeopardize the integrity of the sport itself as gambling.” Sports are great because there is not a pre-determined outcome. Pete Rose is the biggest baseball scumbag of all time because he threatened “pre-determined”. Without it we might as well be watching WWE.

  5. db said...

    No one ever endangered his health emulating Gaylord Perry.  Perry did not endanger himself in throwing spitballs. 

    Manny Ramirez and other PED users knowingly damaged their livers, shrunk their balls and took other health risks based on their use of illegally obtained unprescribed drugs.  Each and every PED user, in a subtle but non-zero fashion, applied pressure that every other major leaguer, every minor leaguer and every kid aspiring to be the same needed to take drugs and endanger themselves merely to keep up.  This point has been far too easily ellided.  The flip answer that “everyone” was doing it misses the point that users created an environment where “everyone” believed they had to do it. 

    I am not saying that PED should be a bar to the HOF.  I am willing to reserve judgment on this issue.  But I do think the general reaction by the sabermetric community to dismiss PEDs as “no big deal” and just another era adjustment (and I have seen this argument made dozens of times) is not a particularly well grounded position.  (Frankly, I think it is, in part, a reaction to the media grandstanding the other way, as best exemplified by the I-won’t-vote-for-Bagwell-because-he-has-muscles crowd.)

  6. Vince Caramela said...

    It is very interesting that you will find such a wide gap between those sabermetrically inclined to those among the longtime members of the BBWAA and mainstream media.

    I haven’t seen any polls taken at ESPN, SI and MLB Network.  I know Will Carroll is the first to come to my mind as someone who approaches this subject with any kind of intellectual honesty while maintaining a high profile (forgive me, if I’m missing anyone else) but I am saddened by the voters on ESPN and TV (Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark are a quick few) who feel like they need to hold up some moral code without questioning the true ramifications of PEDs and medical science in this era and the next.

  7. George Purcell said...

    The only rational way to deal with HOF cases during the steroid era is to wall off that period of time and assess which players during it were in the top 2 to 5 percent of the player pool.  That keeps people like Palmiero and Sosa out but ensures the truly great players of the age are recognized.

    That means Bonds should be in, McGwire should be in and, yes, Manny should be in.

  8. Brad said...

    Reasonable, thoughtful analysis from every “YES” on the board.  No greater collection of minds exist in baseball than at THT!

  9. Greg Simons said...

    Vince, based on everything I read from Will Carroll regarding PEDs, his stance was akin to, “We don’t know exactly what PEDs can do, so let’s assume they do nothing.”

    I can’t agree with that conclusion.  I’ll paste something I shared with another THT contributor:

    “No one is saying—well, at least I’m not—that roids alone are responsible for a player’s ability.  PEDs won’t (and didn’t) turn Adam Piatt into Mark McGwire, but the people who argue that Piatt didn’t become a superstar are missing the point.  Maybe Piatt never even sniffs the majors if he didn’t take PEDs.

    The baseballs, ballparks, training, strike zone, etc. all play a part.  But some people want to give all of the responsibility for the increased HR output to these other factors and say PEDs played no role whatsoever.

    I’d argue that baseball players, football players, weightlifters, pro wrestlers, track stars, etc. have used PEDs because they enhance physical performance.  They make a person stronger and/or faster, help them train harder and recover from training more quickly.

    These effects can be beneficial in baseball by 1) allowing a stronger player to muscle a ball over the fence instead of having it die at the warning track, 2) allow an injured/tired player to recover more quickly, 3) allow a speedy player to swipe more bases or chase down balls hit into the gap more often.

    Another strawman argument some people make is that PEDs can’t help a player square up on a ball better.  No, they can’t, but when a player does make good contact, the ball can be hit harder and farther.

    I beileve PEDs can help baseball players of all stripes improve their abilities by some amount, though I don’t know the exact amount.  I will not assume they make no difference in a player’s performance.”

    None of this is to say that I think everyone who used PEDs should be kept of out the HOF.  There are reasonable arguments—many of them presented above—that the best of the best of any particular flawed time period should be inducted.

    My particular problem with Manny is that after he got busted and paid the price, he was arrogant/foolish/flippant enough to do it a again.  That behavior, and the mindset behind it, is what crosses the line for me.

  10. Jim C said...

    There is one thing about players using PED’s that no one has mentioned yet. All of us who have played the game understand how important confidence is, for hitters and pitchers. If you are taking PED’s, and believe you have an advantage, how confident are you going to be when you step in the batter’s box, or toe the rubber. That’s a crucial factor to any player’s success.

  11. David P Stokes said...

    Yeah, Manny should be voted into the Hall when the time comes.  I don’t like the guy—PEDs aside, the whole “Manny being Manny” shtick never played well with me—and it certainly wouldn’t bother me if the BBWAA doesn’t vote him in, but based on his overall performance on the field, he easily deserves induction.

  12. MikeS said...

    I don’t really know the answer to this one and I have seen good arguments on both sides but I do know that comparing steroids to spitballs (which was done at least twice here) is ludicrous. 

    Using prescription drugs without a prescription is an actual crime.  Not a metaphorical crime against the game, a real violation of the actual laws of whatever municipality you happen to be in.  The sort of thing that gets you led away in handcuffs and questioned in a windowless room for hours until you rat out the guy who supplied them to you.  It is a much more severe infraction than doctoring a baseball which is simply cheating.  Comparing the two is silly.

  13. Mat Kovach said...

    @MikeS

    You have no idea if Manny was using without a prescription. He *did* have a prescription for the drug he tested positive for the first time.

    Cheating is cheating. A spitball is cheating. Using drugs on the banned list is cheating.

    The issue of if it *may* be a crime outside baseball is not an issue. A player can obtain a prescription of use a drug on the banned list, but if he does not get proper approval he would still be cheating, even though he is using legally.

    We have cocaine users and amphetamine users in the Hall of Fame. All which used the substance illegally, so clearly illegal drug usage is *not* something to keep people out of the Hall.

    Heck, if Shoeless Joe or Pete Rose were not banned, GAMBLING wouldn’t be an issue to keep people out of the Hall!

  14. Dave Studeman said...

    Not saying he wasn’t good, but I found him to be far from the most dominant player in the game at any point during his career.

    If you limit the Hall to only those who are “the most dominant” for a year or two, you will have a very small Hall. And I disagree that we was “far” from the most dominant.  The stats and awards say otherwise, as I pointed out above.

    Manny was in the top ten class of “dominance” for ten straight years. That’s still a pretty select group.

    Vince, I think many people have approached the subject of steroids with intellectual honesty, including some who have written for the Hardball Times.

  15. Joe Pilla said...

    I realize that, after all these thoughtful comments, that the following may appear shallow, but here goes:

    I wish to see Manny in the Hall of Fame because
    I think his dreadlocks would really make for a distinctive plaque.

  16. FromThisSeat.com said...

    Manny had great career numbers. If you didn’t include him, it would be a lifelong debate that I am not sure I want to hear. The Pete Rose argument comes up twice a year. Oh, and Pete never took steroids by the way.

  17. Paul Francis Sullivan said...

    No Pete never took ‘roids.
    But three NL West pennant races have a gigantic asterisk hanging over them because of Pete.

  18. Paul Moehringer said...

    Even if you don’t regard the steroids as an issue, I still have my doubts.

    He put up big offense numbers in the biggest offensive era in history at a position that requires you to put up big numbers in order to play it and have a career as long as Manny’s.

    He also never stole bases, and could be described as defensively inept even for his position.  At the very least I can’t put him in the same categoy as Ruth, Cobb, Musial, Bonds, Ted Williams, Speaker, Mays, Aaron, Mantle, Rose, Fran Robinson, Yaz, DiMaggio, Ott, Al Simmons, Ricky Henderson, Ashburn, Waner, Griffey, Kaline, Puckett, Snider; I can keep going with OF’s before I would get to Manny.

    That being said though I wouldn’t view him as the worst person to get into the Hall, but he would be far from the best in my book.  People like that I’m mostly impartial to.

    He was a tremendous hitter, and I can’t overlook that.  But I look at his best year which I feel is 1999.  Bernie Williams, Larry Walker, Brian Giles, Sosa, and Shawn Green I felt all had better years overall and that’s just the OF’s.

    I thought Manny was a very overated player throughout his career.  Not saying he wasn’t good, but I found him to be far from the most dominant player in the game at any point during his career.

  19. Adam W said...

    It really, really, REALLY bothers me to hear people that have never used steroids discuss the potential ramifications of using steroids.

  20. JL said...

    Just a few thoughts on various related topics:

    1) I love the double standards in this country.  Use steroids in baseball, you are bad! Do not pass go, do not collect entrance to HOF!  Use steroids in football, however – even get caught red handed – get slap on wrist, collect new Nike bazillion $ endorsement, sell lots of jerseys for little kids to wear because they want to be just like you!

    2)Cheating batters, bad! Cheating pitchers, good! (wink, wink)

    3)Steroids for batters are bad because they help them get an unfair advantage in their statistics! Steroids add many (i.e., double digits)HR/season to cheaters! Throw out all their stats or * them! Must preserve “integrity” of the numbers! But if one batter plays in a good hitter’s park and another plays in a good pitcher’s park, no one notices double digit HR/season advantage one has over other. (So much for concern over “integrity” of “real” stats.) Think it doesn’t make a 10+ HR/season difference playing your home games in say, the AstroDome instead of the Kingdome?  Really? Oh, but this isn’t “cheating” – it’s legal. It’s part of the game. Right. If it’s legal it must be fair, huh?  Hmm, seems to me I remember slavery/segregation being legal in this country at one time, therefore that must have been fair, right?

    Either as a fan/GM you’re concerned about integrity of stats and being able to identify who the better players truly are, or you’re not!  But if you’re going to say you are, take all the factors into consideration! Unfortunately, most of the people braying loudest about “integrity” are the ones actually least concerned about it.

  21. Jim C said...

    Most of us have taken steroids at one time or another. I played in an adult tournament in Phoenix a few times, and got my GP to give me a cortisone shot before the tournament, to minimize the swelling in my shoulder so I could pitch every day or every other day. Those of you with allergy issues may have been given prednisone which is a steroid. On a side note, Pete took plenty of greenies, and he bet against the Reds on a regular basis. If you don’t believe me, just ask John Dowd.

  22. Paul Francis Sullivan said...

    “Cheating batters, bad! Cheating pitchers, good! (wink, wink)”

    To quote Voltaire, what the hell are you talking about?

  23. David Wade said...

    Jim C.- I’ve also taken prednisone, without which my herniated disc would have been nearly unbearable.  But, just wanted to say that prednisone is a very different kind of steroid than, say, winistrol or some stuff that literally makes you go through puberty again.

  24. Greg Simons said...

    @Jim C – Good point about the potential placebo effect. I’ve thought about it before but didn’t think to mention it in this discussion.

    @Paul Moehringer – You listed some tremendous all-time greats among OFs, but a player doesn’t have to be an “inner circle” talent to get elected to Cooperstown.  Just ask Jim Rice, or Kirby Puckett, whom you mentioned.  And I certainly think Manny was a better player than Puckett, Bernie Williams, Brian Giles and Shawn Green – and possibly others – among those you listed.

    @Adam W – To use a baseball example, few of us have ever throw, or faced, a 95-mph fastball or a knee-buckling 12-to-6 curveball, yet we make comments and based analyses on second-hand observations of those things.  THT and many other baseball-related sites exist largely for such purposess.

    As a drug example, most of us have never used meth or cocaine, but we make laws based on witnessing and studying the effects they have on others.

    There’s an unending list of things people haven’t personally done that they have opinions on.

    @JL – You said, “If it’s legal it must be fair, huh?  Hmm, seems to me I remember slavery/segregation being legal in this country at one time, therefore that must have been fair, right?”

    Legal and fair aren’t necessarily the same thing.  Never have been, never will be.  And I think you jumped the shark with the slavery/segregation thing.

    Besides, stats such as OPS+, ERA+, WAR, Win Shares, WARP, etc. take into account home-field advantages and disadvantages.  For example, if Larry Walker had put up the numbers he did in the Astrodome in the 60s, everyone who say he’s a no-doubt HOFer.  But since he played most of his career in Denver during an offensive boom period, people have adjusted their mindset accordingly.

  25. Mike Link said...

    Numbers are not the only measure even in the age of sabermetrics.  Here is a man who had to leave teams because of lacksadasical performance, who only performed when it was his mood.  His numbers could have been and should have been better, but he let his teams down and that is not Hall of Fame.

    This is not PED – he was not the team player that others were who I would vote for in PED.  He let down the Red Sox, he let down the Dodger, and now he let down the Rays.  That is three strikes and it keeps him out of the hall.

  26. JL said...

    PFS – Gaylord Perry already set the precedent. Whitey Ford and Don Sutton were also often accused of doctoring pitches, which supposedly helped their stats tremendously, but they are still in the HOF. The BBWAA has already set the standard – “cheating pitchers, good”.

    I know they are raising a fuss about Clemens now but that has as much to do with his being a jerk and people wanting to bring him down as it does the actual steroids issue.  Same with Bonds.  If the BBWAA decides Clemens doesn’t get in the HOF due to cheating that is going against their own usual position and smacks of hypocrisy.

  27. JL said...

    GS – First of all, many members of the BBWAA couldn’t spell WARP if you spotted them the “WAR”, much less apply it to any evaluation of players.

    Second, since apparently the sun shines out Ken Griffey,Jr.‘s a**, the media believes his hitting 40-50+ HRs/season in the ‘90s playing in the Kingdome would have still occurred had he been playing in a park like the Astrodome.  You may know that’s not true but they don’t. Ask Jeff Bagwell about the effects of the Astrodome on HRs. Oh, wait a minute, don’t ask him – he’s one of the “cheaters”.

    Finally – everyone is quick to point out that Bonds benefitted by as much as 20+ HRs/season due to steroids (an ESPN study had the figure at 23 HRs in 2001 alone). But no one seems to be pointing out that by far the most difficult park in the major leagues for a left handed batter to HR in during the early 2000s was…the park in SF.  According to the Park Factors in the Major League Handbooks, it was almost twice as difficult for a left handed batter to HR there as a typical park.  Bonds was losing double digit HRs/season due to his home ball park (particularly the 421 sign out in right center where fly balls go to die but that would be HRs in almost any other park) but no one wants to mention that little bit of information.  Because we’re talking about Barry Bonds.

    That’s what I mean by double standards.

  28. Paul Francis Sullivan said...

    I am officially bored by this topic.

    There are some people who will equate ‘roids with spitballs.

    There are some people who don’t believe anyone did anything.

    There are some people who still don’t believe Palmeiro did anything.

    It’s boring.

    And it is going to make the whole Hall of Fame vote so unfun for the next 10-15 years.

  29. JL said...

    Mike Link –

    I know people talk about the negative impacts of a bad attitude on a team. But it’s also hard to overlook the huge numbers Manny put up.

    When we look at a BA over .300, OBA over .400 and SLG over .500 (numbers Manny typically put up), we often think in terms of “a whole team with those numbers would probably score 8-10 runs a game and therefore easily win the pennant.”  But would they? Does the negative attitude of a player actually translate into the team scoring less and allowing more? Can we say that a whole team of Mannys would only score 4 runs a game instead of 9 due to the attitudes in spite of the stats? Can we statistically show that it ultimately impacts the W-L record? I think you’re in a really iffy area here.

    I know, for example, that many members of the champion Giants who have been with the team a few years have said the clubhouse is a much better place to be these days than it was when Bonds was playing. They have basically gone as far as saying the team is better off without him.

    But did anyone feel that way back in 2002 when he almost single-handedly carried the team to a game 7 of the World Series?  Sometimes I think the performance on the field as it actually impacts the team putting runs on the scoreboard has to outweigh the negative attitude problems, doesn’t it?

    I know many of Reggie Jackson’s teammates in Oakland and NY openly admitted to hating his guts but those teams still won 5 championships with some very negative clubhouses.

    Yes, Manny’s attitude has been poor and he’s let his teams down from time to time.  But do you think the Red Sox would have won championships in 2004 and 2007 without him?

  30. fred said...

    he deservs it however if you say steriods takers shouldnt be in remeber it was leagell a couple of years ago and remember no players was sent to jail for it even rose if he was guilkty or not should be in because his stats speak for themelvesand he was indted in a court of law inicident until proen guilty

  31. voxpoptart said...

    Greg Simons aside, I notice a level of groupthink (on the steroids issue) from sabermetricians that seems fully equal to the level of groupthink among mainstream sportswriters.  And I find “But, Gaylord Perry!” to be exactly as true and relevant—but not one whit moreso—as the argument “But, Jesse Haines!” when someone points out that your favorite HoF-candidate pitcher wasn’t remarkably good. Gaylord Perry has no business in the Hall, and one player doesn’t make a standard.

    (Personally, I’d elect the qualified steroid-era chearters, and exclude the twice-caught Manny. But I’m mostly with Paul Francis Sullivan about how depressing and un-fun the Hall vote is becoming with all this.)

  32. Mat Kovach said...

    Gaylord Perry is a notable example if known cheaters that are in the Hall of Fame. He is just “the face”, since he embraced his cheating. But to me, cheating is a fringe issue in Hall voting. Looking at the people in the Hall, morals issues are brought up as an EXCUSE for a writer to not vote for somebody without appearing personal. (Which is why I believe people will point at Manny leaving Boston as a reason to keep him OUT of the Hall, along with his PED issue).

    Unfortunately it is fringe issues that get all the coverage and discussion which generally *is* boring.

    I would love to see somebody ignore the personality and PEDs issues and make a case of Manny NOT having the numbers to be in the Hall. I tried and just can’t do it.

  33. Jamie said...

    dunno if its been said or not.  but,

    PED’s don’t make someone a great hitter.  If you take PED’s and sit on your ass and don’t work out or train then you’re just some guy who plays baseball and takes a PED.  If you’re going to get any effect out of a PED then you’re still gonna have to work as hard as anyone else. 

    from everything i’ve ever read they will aid in the recovery process(HGH/anabolics) so that you can work out harder and recover faster.

    you be the judge if you think working harder to achieve your ultimate goal should be illegal or not.

  34. Paul Francis Sullivan said...

    Please list all the people who said taking PEDs and sitting on your ass will make you a great player

  35. David Wade said...

    Jamie,

    Working harder to be better certainly shouldn’t be punished.  But, since they have to take drugs illegally to be able to work that much harder than the general population, they leave themselves open to the questions of fairness.

    But, I get your point.  One reason I believe guys under suspicion when they say their gains are from hard work-  Of course they were- steroids let you work out harder than people who don’t take them!

  36. David Wade said...

    SHAKY ANALOGY ALERT-

    I’ve often wondered this-

    A college kid often pops Adderalls that he occasionally buys from his fraternity brother.  He uses the stimulant to study like crazy, for hours and hours more than he’d normally be able to.  He busts his ass.  He graduates with honors and is on the fast track to a great career.

    Is that diploma tainted?

    My answer is that technically, it is.  But, will they ever take it away from him?

  37. Jim C said...

    The best player to look at over the whole PED issue is McGwire. Before he started juicing, he was an injury-prone, all or nothing hitter that La Russa had to sit the last two weeks of the ‘91 season so that his average did not go under .200. After he took ‘roids, he was still an all-or-nothing hitter, with by far the highest percentage of HR’s to total hits of any player with his longevity, but he was no longer injury-prone, and was a much better fastball hitter than previously as well, when he was often described as having a “Slider-speed bat.”

  38. Paul E said...

    Let’s not forget the 6 intentional walks, 8   pitching changes, 4 hour nine inning marathons known as major league baseball as managers lived in fear of the 215# second baseman who could hit the ball 425’….
        What effect do steroids have? Let’s ask the players – users and non-users. Give them immunity from prosecution. Release the names of the other 100 – you know, “in the best interests of baseball”
        Steroids work quite well at enhancing athletic performance-that’s why athletes take them

  39. Greg Simons said...

    @Mat – I agree Manny has HOF-worthy numbers, but there is at least some question about how legit those numbers are, though I suspect he would have achieved similar numbers without PEDs.

    However, there’s more than numbers involved in HOF voting.  As I mentioned in the body of this article, voters are instructed to consider the categories of integrity, sportsmanship and character, as well.  Manny doesn’t fare so well in those categories.

    And I still don’t think all cheating is the same.

    @Sully – Enjoy the game!  I just arrived in Montreal and, sadly, there’s no game here.

  40. Jim C said...

    A Paul E-There will be a game in Montreal shortly, in the only sport they really care about there. Bruins-Habs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I was in Montreal in late September ‘81 when they were about to make their only playoff appearance, and no one was talking about them. All the talk in the bars was about the Canadiens starting training camp. I also had the unique experience of going to a game there without ever being outdoors. Subway station in the basement of my hotel, subway station at the stadium, and the roof was closed.

  41. Paul E said...

    @ Greg Simons

    “@Mat – I agree Manny has HOF-worthy numbers, but there is at least some question about how legit those numbers are, though I suspect he would have achieved similar numbers without PEDs.”

    So, I guess Manny Ramirez and all the others took steroids because they were addicts? You know, since “he would have achieved similar numbers w/o PEDs”

    A .280 20 80 career hitter becomes .315 35 135 @ age 32. Steroids work – that’s why athletes take them….

    @ Jim C. – I guess that’s why they’re in DC now. God bless Boots Day

  42. Greg Simons said...

    @Paul E – I definitely wasn’t clear with my comment, because I think we’re of a similar mind.

    I meant that Manny would have achieved impressive, probably even HOF-caliber, numbers w/o PEDs, but they would have been lower than what he actually reached.

    However, if you’re saying Manny in particular went from .280/20/80 to .315/35/135 at age 32, that’s incorrect.  He was a .317/32/104 player through age 31, then .305/26/86 afterwards.

    Of course, Barry Bonds was .286/29/86 through age 31 and .311/39/91 afterwards, so maybe that’s whom you were referencing.

  43. Robert V. said...

    I’m disappointed that so many people condone or even endorse steroid use. Mr. Jaffe worst of all, who would seem to be OK with everybody in the league injecting steroids:

    “Whatever you might think of steroids, they’re taken in an attempt to play better. It’s about getting the job done.”

    Should college kids take steroids to improve their draft position? High schoolers? Little Leaguers? What message is that going to send to these little kids and up-and-coming athletes if you reward those who use steroids?

    What people don’t seem to realize is that by unfairly enhancing your own performance, you are unfairly detracting from somebody else’s. How many pitchers have lost out on money from extensions or arbitration because of Manny’s steroids? We can’t quantify it, but that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore it. If the steroids didn’t grant any positive gain (that outweighed health risks AND suspension risks), athletes wouldn’t be taking them.

    But the fans will continue to simply turn their heads and pretend they didn’t see anything. After all, no steroids means less homers to draw in attendance, less highlight reels for ESPN, and, God forbid, less points for your fantasy teams.

    Manny was a great hitter, but that was it. Terrible fielder, not impressive on the basepaths and a cancer in the dugout (of course, only a cancer when he wasn’t hitting—otherwise he was just “Manny being Manny”). One-dimensional designated hitters that repeatedly violate the rules have no place playing baseball, let alone being glorified in the Hall of Fame.

  44. Paul E said...

    @ Greg Simons

    No, I was talking about Brett Boone. I think we know Bonds was a fairly good ball player before he got to SF. smile

    As further proof steroids might just do the trick, Ken Caminiti performed at a 140 OPS+ from 1994 – 2000. That period of excellence commenced at age 31 and was preceeded by an OPS+ of 94 through age 30….

    Let’s just give HGH to 65+ year olds in lieu of Medicare – it might just keep us from turning into Greece, Ireland, and France

  45. zubin said...

    I wouldn’t vote him (Ramirez) or Bonds or Sosa or Mac… knowing full well the vets committe (or whatever it is called in 10-15 years) will take care of the problem.  So I imagine their HoF chances will rest on how they conduct themselves post playing career.  And I am pretty sure I know right now who will be “productive” post retirement and who won’t.

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